The History of Milton - A Brief Overview
The area that is today’s City of Milton was once within the confines of the Cherokee Nation, a homeland encompassing 120,000 square miles including major portions of six modern-day states. The earliest contact between the Cherokee Indians and European explorers occurred in the 16th century. Relations with subsequent European settlers stimulated the development of Cherokee society and culture. The Cherokees established a government and institutions that matched the most civilized cultures of the time. The rapid influx of settlers led to friction between the two cultures, exacerbated by the discovery of gold in nearby Dahlonega, Georgia in 1829. The state took over the Cherokee lands in 1830 and separated them into ten individual counties and divided the land for white settlers in the 1832 land lottery. Ultimately, thousands of Cherokees were rounded up and in 1838 marched to Oklahoma in the tragic Trail of Tears.
John Milton was an American hero and patriot who played keys roles in the shaping of our country and the great state of Georgia. Milton, who served both as Georgia’s first Secretary of State and as a Captain during the Revolutionary War, fought in some pivotal battles all while hiding the official state documents from the British. After helping to secure America’s independence, Milton continued to serve as Secretary of State until 1799. During that time, John Milton also served on behalf of Georgia as an Elector in the first Presidential election of George Washington and ratified the U.S. Constitution on January 2, 1788. Historic articles and documents refer to Milton as a brave and worthy man who was regarded in high esteem by his fellow countrymen. Milton County and the City of Milton, which was formed in 2006, are named in honor of John Milton.
Look for more detailed historical information about John Milton, coming soon!
(Photo provided by Connie Mashburn)
This 1832 Cherokee County land lottery document relates to 40 acre Lot Number 811, Cherokee County. North Fulton County was then part of Cherokee County. This lot is near Providence Road, between Freemanville and Birmingham Highway. Gold had been discovered in Dahlonega and it was thought that nearby land might contain gold. Lottery officials equated a 40 acre gold lot to a 160 acre land lot. Lottery participants reached into a barrel and pulled out a slip of paper. Those whose selection contained a lot number paid a $10 fee and took possession of the land.
The Civil War exerted a profound and lasting impact on Milton County. While some historians believe that Union soldiers never got closer to Milton County than our border with Roswell, some Confederate Military Records in Cumming read “Captured, Milton Co., GA.” At least three Milton County infantry companies were created during the war and saw action in many battles. Most notable were the Milton County Tigers Company of the 42nd Regiment, the Milton Guards Company of the 38th Regiment and the Warsaw Rebels of the 22nd Regiment. Milton County suffered approximately 250 casualties, creating a lasting impact on local families and our economy.
(Photo provided by Connie Mashburn)
Private John Rucker. 22nd Regiment Company E Warsaw Rebels, Forsyth and Milton Counties. Wounded and disabled at Seven Pines, Virginia May 31, 1862.
In 1857, Milton County was established from parts of Cherokee, Forsyth and Cobb counties. The population of Milton County at its inception was less than 4,000 By comparison, the population of this area today (according to 2020 census) is approximately 40,000. In 1874, settlers built a log cabin schoolhouse beside an old crabapple tree and called the community Crabapple. Today, several historic buildings are found at the five-way crossroads in downtown Crabapple. The county was named after John Milton, Georgia’s first Secretary of State and was an agricultural area with cotton as its mainstay. However, boll weevil infestations, droughts and the Great Depression destroyed its one-crop economy.Some farmers shifted to other crops and poultry, but that was not enough to overcome the lack of services and decent infrastructure.On January 1, 1932, a nearly destitute Milton County was merged into Fulton County.
(Photo of 1891 Map of Georgia provided by Philip and Kathy Beck)
As part of Fulton County, the region began the process of urbanization.Paved roads, bridges, churchesand schools altered the landscape and changed the way of life.New roads became important transportation links between the towns of the Georgia highlands and Atlanta. The area has continued to grow and prosper since then.
(Photo provided by Burma Tucker Parker)
Providence Baptist Church circa 1940. Providence was constituted in 1834 and is the oldest church in the City of Milton.
In 2006, the residents voted to create the City of Milton out of unincorporated northwest Fulton County. The following decade was marked by continued growth and prosperity for the citizens of Milton. At the same time the city has retained its historic rural character, which represents a coveted and attractive balance between small-town life and the convenience of nearby urban areas.
Milton is part of the Piedmont region of the state of Georgia which influenced its agricultural, agricultural property, town/city and transportation history. Sandwiched between the mountain and coastal regions of the state, this area had squash, corn and beans as some of its earliest crops by Native American inhabitants. For a complete look at Georgia's agricultural history, we recommend this document, “Tilling the Earth - Georgia’s Historic Agricultural Heritage, A Context”.
Those were the days…
(Photo provided by Aubrey Morris)
Rollin Tucker standing in his cornfield on Freemanville Road near Summit Road. Mr. Tucker often peddled his produce in Alpharetta and Roswell. The Tucker farm house was restored from 1979 - 1984 by Robbie Richter and is now owned by James & Linda Farris.
(Photo provided by Linda Tucker Martin)
Successful turtle hunt with Tucker, Reese, Westbrook, Spence and Collett family members - 1950s. Turtle “boils” were often held on the Fourth of July in Milton communities, especially in Crabapple and Fields Crossroads. Turtles were plentiful along the banks of the Cooper Sandy and Chicken Creeks. The turtles were boiled in large cast iron pots. On Mondays the pots were used for washing clothes.
(Photo provided by Helen Heard)
Charles Middleton Wood and family members at their home on Hagood Road. “C. M.”, as he was called, ran the Hagood Store on Bethany Way for many years. He later moved to Alpharetta where he served as city clerk.
(Photo provided by Clayton Cameracraft
and Sonny Wright)
Cochran Brick Works on Freemanville Road near Lewis Road in the 1910s
(Photo provided by 1953 Milton High School Aerie yearbook)
In only its second season of playing a full region schedule, the Milton team went undefeated during the regular season, but lost to Hoganville in the class B state championship game.
(Photo provided by Connie Mashburn)
Homer Cowart at his family's farm on Cowart Road - 1910
Photo provided by Colemand Reese)
Courting couple, Myran Adena Payne and Abner Cook. They later married and lived on Thompson Road, not far from Redd Road.
(Photo provided by Bryon Burgess)
Toledo and Estelle Wright Burgess. Toledo was the first school bus driver in what is now city of Milton after Fulton merger in 1932. The rock house stood at the SE corner of Birmingham and Freemanville roads - 1930s.
(Photo provided by Carlos Bagwell)
Burgess Sawmill on Francis Road east of the Cogburn, Hopewell and Francis roads roundabout. Circa 1910.